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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Tiucson Arizona Temple Dedication is just one week away

Hello, all! The Tucson Arizona Temple dedication will take place one week from today. As I have previously noted, I am anticipating President Uchtdorf, who broke ground for this temple, will return to dedicate it. If not, it may be a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but who that would be I just don't know. Some have suggested I consider the possibility of President Eyring, who has ties to Arizona, being the one to preside at this event, but as he presided at both of the two previous events (the dedication of the Paris France Temple and the rededication of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple), and as the Church likes to rotate attendance at temple dedications, I find it hard to believe that President Eyring would be at this temple dedication too. I can't rule it out entirely. What I'm saying is that I think it is unlikely. Time will tell.

So who else  from the general Church leadership might be at this event? I have looked but have not been able to find any apostles (aside from President Eyring) who has any kind of ties to Arizona in general or Tucson in particular. Accompanying President Eyring at the Paris France dedication were Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Temple Department Executive Director, Elder Paul V. Johnson, President of the Church's Europe Area, and our French-born Presiding Bishop Gerald Causse.

Two weeks later, accompanying President Eyring at the rededication of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple were Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy, Bishop Dean M. Davies, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, and Elders Wilford W. Andersen, Bradley D. Foster, and K. Brett Nattress of the Seventy.

In a few short days, we will likely have a better idea about who might potentially be in attendance at the Tucson Arizona Temple dedication. And by this time next week, we will have 157 operating temples.

On the first Sunday in June, when the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was rededicated, the dedication of the Tucson Arizona Temple seemed so far away. And now it is practically upon us. I am so excited that it is now just a week away. The Saints in Tucson will be greatly benefitted by this temple. And for my part, I cannot wait to see what the week between now and the day of that dedication will bring in regards to Church and temple news and developments.

Whatever else may happen, you can count for sure on my continuing to keep an eye out for news and developments and that I will pass those along as I become aware of them. Thanks to you all for your ongoing interest and support. Hope you had a wonderful Sabbath day. Any comments are weolce and appreciated. Until I return with another new post, I wish you all the best.

Update Containing the Latest Apostolic Statistics

It has been seven weeks (just short of two months) since I last posted here on the blog about apostolic age and tenure milestones. In view of how much has changed within that time, I think I am beyond overdue to cover this topic again, including updating you all on the latest milestones that our apostles have reached. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I am grateful to the Lord for giving me such a profound and deep appreciation for such things. And it is my hope that some few of you may find all of this as interesting as I do. For those not interested, I don’t mind at all if you bypass or overlook the remainder of this post. Before getting started, I should like to note that the figures contained within this post are current as of today (Sunday August 6).

For those that are sticking with me through this, we will start this time as we have always done: by talking about President Russell M. Nelson’s tenure as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Last month, a day before Independence Day (on July 3), President Nelson marked exactly two years of service in the Quorum Presidency. As of today, he has served for It is awesome to see how vigorously he continues to ensure the work of the Quorum is up-to-date. In President Nelson, I see clearly a fulfillment of the promise given in the oath and covenant of the priesthood, and I testify that he has truly been “sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewal of [his body].” I still say it would not surprise me if he lives long enough to become the oldest living apostle in Church history. Last month (on July 9), he became the 18th longest-serving Quorum President. Assuming no change in the presidency of either the Quorum of the Twelve or the Church itself between now and then (which may be possible, if not perhaps very likely), on Wednesday October 11 he will become the 17th longest serving Quorum President, a distinction currently held by Anthon H. Lund.

His final Quorum Presidency tenure milestone this year will happen on Monday December 18, when he will become the 16th longest serving Quorum President, having served longer than Harold B. Lee. The tenure milestones he will observe after that are more spread out, but I will report on his progress towards those milestones in later updates. And as is true with any other details, however many additional milestones President Nelson observes during his tenure (however long that turns out to be) will be completely in the Lord’s hands.

For now, let’s turn our attention to President Monson. In view of the announcement made on May 23, he will no doubt be making less public appearances and may or may not deliver any other prepared remarks during however much longer he will be alive. His 90th birthday is now a mere 15 days away. When that day rolls around, he will become the 7th nonagenarian Church President. Just over one month ago, on June 30, he observed a milestone related to his tenure length as well, becoming the 8th longest serving prophet and taking the spot that was previously held by President Wilford Woodruff. Until more is known about President Monson’s health and situation, it will be difficult to project how many other milestones he might reach as our prophet. He could live for several more years, or, if the Lord wills it, could pass away in the near or more distant future.

As I noted in my last update, our current First Presidency was the 5th of the top 5 longest serving unchanged First Presidencies in the history of the Church. On June 28, they became the 4th longest serving First Presidency, and just last Monday, July 31, they became the 3rd longest serving First Presidency. If there have been no changes to our current First Presidency by September 12 of next year, they will become the second-longest serving First Presidency. And if, through God’s will, nothing changes by July 3, 2020, they will have become the longest-serving First Presidency in Church history. All that will depend entirely on whether or not each member of our current First Presidency. I am hoping they will reach all of these milestones, but that is in the Lord’s hands. Whatever happens there, rest assured that I will be reporting on any developments as I become aware of them.

I should also note that, in order to be among the longest continuous serving Quorums of the Twelve Apostles, the current group would need to serve until Thursday January 17, 2019. That may or may not happen. As I have previously observed, one or two of our current 12 apostles is having health issues, and President Nelson is the oldest of the current 12 apostles, so it could very well be that our current Quorum of the Twelve will not reach even that first milestone. It is almost equally certain that all of our 15 apostles as a group will not meet either of the two longest periods without a change being made. To reach the second-longest milestone, our 15 apostles would need to continue serving until April 3, 2022. The Lord has been known to surprise us, though, so it could happen. Once more is known in this regard, I will pass that along.

For now, let’s turn our attention to apostolic age developments. Since President Monson’s 90th birthday is just 15 days away, that puts his exact age at 89 years, 11 months, and 16 days, with his decimal age being 89.96 years. President Eyring now stands at 84 years, 2 months, 6 days, which is 84.18 years. Rounding out the First Presidency is President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who has now reached the age of 76 years, 9 months exactly, which works out to 76.75 years. As of today, the First Presidency has a combined 250.89 years of life experience, which works out to an average of 83.63 years for each of them.
As you can imagine, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has aged up a bit since my last report. President Nelson’s 93rd birthday is now just over a month away. He is now 92 years, 10 months, and 28 days old (which puts him at 92.91 decimal years). Elder Oaks, whose birthday is in just six days, stands at 84 years, 11 months, and 25 days old (with a decimal age of 84.98 years). His birthday is coming up in August. Elder Ballard today has reached the age of 88 years, 9 months, and 29 days old (which is 88.83 decimal years).

Elder Hales, who is 12 days younger than Elder Oaks and another apostle with an August birthday, now stands at 84 years, 11 months, and 13 days old (84.95 decimal years). Elder Holland is 76 years, 8 months, and 3 days old (being 76.67 in decimal years). Elder Bednar now stands at 65 years, 1 month, and 22 days, having a decimal age of 65.14 years. Elder Cook, who is older than both President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland, marked 76 years, 10 months, and 29 days old, which makes his decimal age 76.91 decimal years. As for Elder Christofferson, his actual age is 72 years, 7 months, and 13 days, while his decimal age has now reached 72.53 years.

Rounding out the junior third of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the most senior is Elder Andersen, whose birthday is three days from now. He has reached the age of 65 years, 11 months, and 28 days old, putting him at 65.99 years. Elder Rasband, just over six months older than his seatmate, has now reached the age of 66 years, 6 months even (which works out to exactly 66.50 decimal years) today. Elder Stevenson celebrated his 62nd birthday today, which is no different expressed in long or decimal form. Elder Renlund, the least senior but second youngest apostle, has now reached 64 years, 8 months, and 24 days old, putting his decimal age at 64.73 years.

With that information noted, I wanted to mention that the combined amount of life experience for the current Quorum of the Twelve Apostles now stands at 902.14 years, which averages out to around 75.18 years. In adding the years of life experience of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, we arrive at a grand total of 1153.03 years of life experience for the 15 apostles. And the average age of all of these 15 apostles now stands at 76.87 years. Again, I am honestly not sure about how that compares with apostolic averages of the past. If anyone knows, they can be sure to let me know. But as I have observed previously, I am sure it is both older than some and younger than others.

Now, if I may, I would like to share a few thoughts about present and future nonagenarian apostles. President Nelson’s lifespan outlasted that of Elder L. Tom Perry when he (Presdient Nelson) became the 9th oldest apostle on Wednesday July 5 (just over a month ago), taking the spot now held by Elder L. Tom Perry. While not necessarily a notable milestone, as mentioned earlier, President Nelson will mark his 93rd birthday 1 month and 3 days from today. President Nelson will reach other nonagenarian milestones this year as well, becoming the 8th oldest living apostle on Wednesday October 18, when he will have lived longer than did Elder Richard R. Lyman. And just over two months after that (on Friday December 22), he will become the 7th oldest apostle, having lived longer than Charles W. Penrose. His next nonagenarian milestone will not be observed until 2019.

As already noted, President Monson will join the ranks of apostolic nonagenarians on Monday August 21, 2017. The only other nonagenarian milestone that President Monson will observe this month will happen on Wednesday September 27, when he will have lived longer than J. Reuben Clark. He will observe a few more milestones next year if he is still alive by then. As always, once anything more is known, I will pass that along. Until that time, I wanted to at least note these things.

Our other apostles will take varying lengths of time to join the list of nonagenarians, from Elder Ballard (who will do so in 1 year, 2 months, and 2 days, to Elder Stevenson’s 28 years even. I am keeping an eye on all tenure and age developments relating to our apostles and will pass that information along as I am able to do so in the future.

For now, this is the latest information I have. It will be interesting to see what happens with our apostles over the next several years. Some will pass, and others will take their place. I hope you all enjoyed this update. Thanks for the privilege of your time. Let me know any thoughts you might have, if you are willing to do so. Until I post again, I wish you all the best.

Pageant Celebrating the Sacrifice of Early British Converts and Pioneers Held Again in Great Britain

Hello, all! Not sure how I missed this, but the Deseret News ran an article on August 4 regarding this year's revival of a pageant in the UK celebrating the sacrifice of early British Converts and Pioneers. The pageant was first held in 2013 and was meant to be a one-time thing. In fact, all props and background had been disposed of and no one expected it to come back. But in view of the celebrations commemorating the 180th anniversary of the Church being established in Great Britain, leaders and members of the Church in Great Britain and surrounding nations found a way to bring it back.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, whose grandfather Henry joined the Church in England, and who, as noted in earlier posts, served his mission in Great Britain, represented the other 14 apostles there. He was accompanied to the pageant by Elder Patrick Kearon, who wrapped up his service last week as president of the Europe Area and is now serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Paul V. Johnson, who will be replacing Elder Kearon as Area President. Click here to read that article.

Thanks, as always, for the privilege of your time. I continue to welcome and very much appreciate comments on things I post. Until I post again in the not-too-distant future, I wish you all the best.

Inspirational and Thought-Provoking Church News Stories

Hello again, all! I am back sooner than expected with yet another post. The Church News posted a few inspirational and thought-provoking articles, and I have felt impressed to pass those along.

First, this story highlights how a Church member searched for two years for some information on one of her ancestors with no success. Through what can only be termed a miracle, she found the information from a man who, though not a Church member, was distantly related to the husband of the woman she was looking for. As a result of that connection formed with that woman, the man wound up volunteering at the Family History Library. Whether or not that man will end up joining the Church at some point is not yet known.

Next, during the annual FairMormon Conference held at BYU, Keith Erekson, director of the Church History Library, spoke on the subject of how history skills can strengthen the study of the 11 Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. You can read his remarks here.

This article gives insight into the important role mercy has, not just in terms of Christ's atonement covering the sins of all who will ever live on this and the other worlds our Heavenly Father has created, but also in how we see, interact with, and react and respond to our fellowman.

And lastly, the Church published this article about the sesquicentennial (150 year) anniversary of the establishment of Cove Fort. This Church History landmark, established and initially maintained by Ira Hinckley in accordance with a call to do so from the First Presidency of the Church, was owned and kept up by the Hinckley family until it was deeded over to the Church during the presidency of Ezra Taft Benson. Since my dad was born and has family in St. George Utah, I have had the privilege of visiting the Cover Fort landmark many times. And in doing so, I have felt the spirit of the Lord.

I am grateful to have had this opportunity to share this Church news update with all of you. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Any comments are always welcome. Until my next post, I wish you all the best.

Regional Face-to-Face Event (featuring Elder Dale G. and Sister Ruth L. Renlund) originates from West Africa

Hello again, everyone! The Church News and Mormon Newsroom posted a report on the regional Face-to-Face event for youth, which featured Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund. The event originated from the MTC in Accra Ghana. Youth from the Africa Southeast and Africa West Areas participated, asking Elder and Sister Renlund the questions that were on their minds.

It was good to read the reports of this event. Face-to-Face events have been held for the youth by the Church for the last several years. Such events were established as an opportunity for the youth to receive answers to their questions from either Church leaders or prominent Church members. The Church established such events for the purpose of allowing the youth to ask questions and address concerns about how they can live their faith and prepare for the future in the midst of peer and societal pressures that are part of the last days.

I am grateful to belong to a Church that cares so much about the youth in their congregations. The work is expanding at a miraculous rate all over the world, and we are blessed to be part of that process.

That wraps up this post. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Comments continue to be welcome and appreciated. Until my next post, I wish you all the best.

First Apostolic Birthday in August: Elder Gary E. Stevenson turns 62

Hello, all! Though one of my first blog posts this month discussed the dates in August on which 5 of our apostles (33% or 1/3 of all 15) would mark their birthdays, where possible, I will also be doing posts for each of these 5 on the day of. Therefore, the first apostolic birthday this month is for our youngest apostle, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, who celebrates his 62nd birthday today. As most, if not all, of you are no doubt aware, Elder Stevenson is right now the second most junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and also of the 15 apostles overall.

I thought I would present a brief biography of Elder Stevenson, including important highlights of his time as a general authority. Born in Ogden, Utah in 1955, Elder Stevenson served in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. He obtained his secondary education at Utah State University (where he majored in business). During his time at USU, he met his wife, Lesa Jean Higley, whom he married in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple and with whom he raised four sons. Fun fact: Elder Stevenson's mother and wife share the middle name of Jean. I found that intriguing.

Elder Stevenson worked for ICON Health and Fitness, eventually getting promoted to Chief Operating Officer. He additionally served on both the USU Foundation Board and the Marriott School of Management National Advisory Council.

Prior to his call as a general authority, he served in a variety of callings, including as a bishop, a counselor in a stake presidency, and returned to Japan to serve as president of the Church's mission headquartered in the city of Nagoya. He filled that assignment from 2004-2007.

Approximately one year after returning from that assignment, Elder Stevenson was among the first General Authorities called by President Monson in April 2008. In the almost four years that followed, Elder Stevenson was assigned to live in Japan again, this time as a counselor and then as the president of the Church's Asia North Area.

During the April 2012 General Conference, the Presiding Bishopric that had been serving together since late December 1995 was released, and Elder Stevenson was called as the new Presiding Bishop. Part of his duties included involvement with temples. And one of the temples that went from announcement to groundbreaking to construction during that time was the Sapporo Japan Temple, for which he, as the Asia Area President, had broken ground in 2011.

About 2.5 years into his service as Presiding Bishop (just prior to the October 2015 General Conference), he was called to the apostleship, becoming the youngest apostle called since Elder David A. Bednar (who was 52 years old at the time of his call in October 2004).

Since his call as a general authority, Elder Stevenson has given 7 amazing and inspirational talks during General Conference, one as a General Authority Seventy, 2 during his time as Presiding Bishop, and the other 4 as a special witness of Jesus Christ. To review any of these talks (which have covered some significant and important topics), click here.

As a brief aside, one thing that really impresses me about his talks (and likewise those of President Eyring) is that the covered subject matter is so important to both of them that they have teared up almost every time they give their prepared remarks. I know that may bother some people, but it doesn't bother me. In fact, when something like that does happen, if anything, it strengthens the Spirit I have felt in such situations.

But getting back to Elder Stevenson, I was gratified to see that the Church has been using him for a wide variety of assignments as he comes closer to marking two years in the apostleship. Together with Elders Rasband and Renlund (who were called to the apostleship the same day), Elder Stevenson has made very valuable contributions to the furthering of the work of the Lord. I look forward to seeing him continue his apostolic ministry.

This concludes my post paying a birthday tribute to Elder Stevenson. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Any comments are welcome and appreciated. I am anticipating that this next week will be another big one for new posts, as there is no shortage of Church and temple-related news. And among those planned posts (barring anything unexpected) will be birthday tributes like this one for Elder Andersen (who will be 65 on Wednesday) and Elder Oaks (who will celebrate his 85th birthday on Saturday). Until I post again, I wish each of you all the best.